The first customer I sent ‘Hummelo’ home with, left the garden center with serious skepticism written all over her face. The plant looked nice and was super healthy. But despite the clean, bright green foliage, it was somewhat lacking from a retail standpoint. Needless to say, she took it home and was calling me the following spring to order more. So what seemingly underwhelming plant became her favorite and also became the Perennial Plant Association’s 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year®?
Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’
Let me introduce you to ‘Hummelo’.
Bright green foliage with scallop-edged, oblong leaves forms a low mass that will spread slowly. Stealing the show in mid-summer are the rosy-lavender spikes of flowers that rise above the clean foliage.
Topping out at 1.5 to 2 feet, this brilliant perennial works best standing to attention at the front of a border.
‘Hummelo’ was introduced by German grower Ernst Pagels in the late ’90s. The plant name pays homage to his nursery and home in Hummelo, Netherlands.
The word “hummel” also means bumblebee in German.
And does that hit the nail squarely! Bees LOVE this plant!!
You may recognize the name Stachys. You’re possibly thinking, eh, Lamb’s Ear. But it’s not.
Eh, I mean. Or even Lamb’s Ear. This Stachys is more like the cousin that you actually want to see at the family reunion.
The genus Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae. There are an estimated 300 to 400 species within the genus Stachys – we’re talking HUGE family. Lamb’s Ear, with its wooly, silver foliage, is one of the many species of Stachys (S. byzantina).
‘Hummelo’ however, is typically sold as Stachys monieri although many resources refer to it as officinalis (which happens to be THE most important medicinal herb of medieval times by the way).
That being said, to confuse matters more, some European nurseries are listing it as Stachys pradica ‘Hummelo’.
Let’s leave the messy nomenclature argument to the professionals though. Because really, we’re in it for the bee-friendly, undeniably spectacular plant anyway. And regardless of what you call it – it is most definitely spectacular.
When you’re at the garden center, ask for ‘Hummelo’. Or by its common name Betony. Or even the Perennial Plant of the Year. The really pretty plant with spiky rosy-lavender flowers will work too!
How does any of this make ‘Hummelo’ Plant of the Year® worthy? According to the Perennial Plant Association website, “Nominations generally need to satisfy the following criteria:
- Suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions.
- Low-maintenance requirements.
- Relative pest and disease resistance.
- Ready availability in the year of promotion.
- Multiple seasons of ornamental interest.”
From my personal experience with this plant and from customers who have planted it at their home? I can firmly say yes to all of these checkpoints and then some!
‘Hummelo’ works wonderfully in full sun pollinator gardens. But the clean foliage also lends itself nicely to formal, estate gardens or front landscape plantings. This stunner doesn’t box itself into one set category.
All it requires from you is full sun to mostly sun and well-drained soil. That’s it.
This Stachys didn’t get picked as the highest rated Stachys by the Chicago Botanic Garden Evaluation Trials for nothing!
Though ‘Hummelo’ may be a bit of a sleeper at the garden center in spring, don’t walk by it! Its spectacular summer show will absolutely stun you!